I see a lot of weddings, and I mean a lot. While Etta James and Elvis are both great tried and true first dance options, there are so many amazing songs out there that are worth a listen. A lot of these songs on their own aren’t deep cuts, but in the wedding first-dance world, I think they would easily be considered as such.
1) Just Like Heaven- The Cure
I’m starting with this song, because this was Scott and my first dance song. I have yet to hear a slowed down acoustic version that is as good as the original, so we opted for the faster paced original. I knew I would cry in our ceremony, and I didn’t want to cry at all in the reception. I wanted it to be more celebratory. And it was. Dancing to this made us feel so happy and in love. It was non-traditional and I loved it even more for that.
2) You & I- Crystal Fighters
This is another faster paced first dance song. And it’s amazing. It’s full of pure joy, happiness, love and un-pulped emotion. The video is seriously depressing and I cried when I saw it because I’m a sap (pun intended). The bird is so in love with the tree it will follow it and be with it through all of the tree’s challenges, no matter how difficult it is for the bird to watch. The ending is a depressing Romeo and Juliet scenario where the bird chooses the same fate as the tree. While the video might rock you to the core, just listen to it without watching at first so you can get a feel for the song. It’s one of my favorites.
3) Till There Was You- The Beatles
Let’s slow it down a little and jump on the Beatles bandwagon for one song. This song is so rarely used anymore for first dances and it makes me wonder why! It’s very endearing in a genuine and simple way. It’s also so fun to watch Paul’s jolly little head shake back and forth in the video.
4) Dedicated To The One I Love- Mamas & Papas
Music from this generation just felt so real. The Mamas & Papas sound so freaking good…can I get an amen? They sing songs that just fill your soul with emotion. While being sentimental, this song is also joyous and fun to dance to.
5) Hysteric (acoustic)- Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Whenever I hear this song I close my eyes and my heart aches just a little bit. Karen O’s voice is magical like that. She really makes you feel a song. The images in this video are not affiliated with the band and they make very little sense. Maybe just close your eyes like I do, and imagine yourself dancing in the arms of your love.
6) Bloom- The Paper Kites
Quiet, sweet and charming. When I listen to it, I can almost feel sunshine on my face. The Paper Kites are an Australian group, and I’m still not sure how they haven’t exploded on the scene. All of their songs are equally as good as this one.
7) Rainbow Connection- Trespassers William
It’s extremely hard to beat Kermit, but Trespassers William has done it with this achingly beautiful rendition of Rainbow Connection. More than any other song on this list, I feel like this one spans most generations, young and old alike.
8) Turn Me On- Nina Simone
We’re officially entering into a generation of brides and grooms who may have never seen the movie The Big Lebowski. Not only is it arguably one of the best movies ever made, but Nina Simone’s song “I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good)” made the spectacular soundtrack. Nina’s voice is deeply haunting in a mysteriously romantic way. Maybe it was the smoking, but the raspy quality to her voice is uniquely her own, much in the same way Billy Holiday’s voice was unmatched. I’m putting both “Turn Me On” and “I Got It Bad” songs up, as “I Got It Bad” might not be the best lyrics for a first dance, but I still freaking love it and think both work really well.
9) Real Love- Adam Sandler (John Lennon Cover)
Ok so I almost didn’t put this up, but I can’t get over how perfect the melody and words are, and yet I’m not sold on any version of it that I’ve heard. I like Adam Sandler’s version a little better than even John Lennon’s because of the musical support on the track. I can’t believe I just compared Adam Sandler and John Lennon. Regina Spektor also does a version of this song. Her styling is a bit of an acquired taste, just like an exotic spice you would only want to use in certain dishes- she’s definitely not all-spice. If I were going to use this song, I’d get kick-ass musicians to play it live acoustically. I’m going to be a little obnoxious and put all three versions of it so you can get a feel for the essence of the song.
10) Higher Love- James Vincent Mc Morrow
If you’re a product of the 80s like I am, you’ll definitely know Steve Winwood’s hit “Higher Love.” While this song is just beyond stereotypically 80s and pretty awesome in a synthesized kind of way, the James Vincent Mc Morrow cover is equally awesome in the exact opposite way. His rendition is the audio version of pulling your heart out of your chest and showing it to you while it’s still beating and saying “this is what true love is.” It oozes with pure passion. I think I get about 10 seconds into it before I get teary eyed. Perfect for an unforgettable first dance.
Above all, when picking “that” song, just make sure it’s “you.” My in-law’s song is Ana Gadda Da Vida by Iron Butterfly, which I think is so awesome because it’s non-traditional, a sign of the time they were married, and kind of funny mostly because the song is pure rock and over 17 minutes long. Don’t feel the need to conform. Just make it your own. It will be so much cooler and memorable that way! Happy dancing!